Treating the whole person means viewing diseases like cancer in the larger context of the whole body. Traditional cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy can wreak havoc on a patient’s body and immune system. The Wholeness & Cancer Immunotherapy Research Program seeks to better understand:
- The immune system’s capabilities in cancer prevention, its shortcomings in the presence of cancer and its role during and after cancer treatment
- How immunotherapy can modify and utilize the immune system to provide novel cancer treatments and cures, as well as fewer, less disruptive side effects
Through this research, our primary goal is to improve quality of life and survival outcomes for cancer patients in our community and around the world.
The Immune System’s Role in Cancer
Our immune system protects the entire body, recognizing and targeting an astronomical number of threats. The immune system doesn’t just eliminate foreign pathogens, though — it also removes what can often be a far larger threat: our own damaged cells.
Far more often than we’re aware of, our immune system eliminates cells with genetic mutations that could lead to cancer. Very, very rarely, though, something goes wrong and the immune system is unable to deal with a mutated cell. Eventually, that cell can divide and grow into a tumor.
Because of the immune system’s potential, immunotherapy may be the most plausible treatment in which to pursue cures for cancers with immune responses. However, there’s still a lot of work to do to identify usable immune responses and to make treatments more consistent for all patients. We believe research in these areas shows promise to unlock the potential of our own bodies to safely and fully eradicate cancers.